Monday, March 23, 2020
UPDATED 3-24-2020! ‘TRAVELS WITH DARLEY’ HOST DARLEY NEWMAN, DVD REVIEWS, ‘THE PATHFINDER’ AND ‘THE SONG OF HIAWATHA’, PLUS TCM ANNOUNCES FEST HOME EDITION!
HENRY’S WESTERN ROUND-UP RETURNS TO WEEKLY SCHEDULE!
Greetings from Quarantine, Rounders!
As I commence – or actually continue – the second decade of The Round-up, I have decided to return to posting every Sunday. As those of you who have been with The Round-up since the beginning will remember, The Round-up was a regular Sunday-night event – actually more like a Monday at 3 a.m. event. It gradually changed to a monthly-ish deal because of the success The Round-up brought me: I was honored to be hired as the Western Film and TV Editor of True West Magazine. I began reading True West when I was ten years old. The magazine was a rare sight in my Brooklyn neighborhood, but whenever my family would travel West for vacations – my parents loved long-drive vacations – I would snap up copies wherever I could find them.
Of course, my monthly duties for True West, in addition to teaching full-time, took a toll on the time I could spend on The Round-up. Well, with all of the bad news we are currently sharing, one surprise consequence for me is that, at least for the rest of the school year, I am not currently a full-time teacher. I plan to use some of that extra time to finish a book, and a screenplay that should have taken me three months, but has taken over a year. Maybe two years. And at least for the time being, I’m going to post The Round-up every Sunday night. It’s going to be a bit shorter than it has been of late, because as we all know, at the moment there is no scripted film or TV production going on. But there are completed shows and films in the pipeline, and there are filmmakers who, like all of us, are sitting around at home, that I can talk to. I will feature at least one review of a new or recent home video release every week: we all need new things to watch. I also hope to make book reviews a more regular event.
I’m starting this new Round-up with an interview with Darley Newman, host of Travels with Darley, a fascinating world travel series found on many PBS stations, here in L.A. on KCET, and on Amazon as well. I know none of us are going anywhere right now, but we will soon, and Darley has some wonderful ideas for places to visit. Things will get better!
TRAVELS WITH DARLEY – A Chat with TV Travel Host Darley Newman
Darley Newman has been traveling the United States, and the world, since 2016, creating and hosting her show, Travels with Darley. In each 30-minute episode – half of them in the United States and half around the world – she tracks down locals to advise her. “The idea for this show is to travel with locals as your guides. Actually, Travel Like a Local was the original name.” Athletic and adventurous, Darley’s show focuses on local history and food and drink, but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, bungee jumping, swimming with sharks, and the occasional need to put distance between Darley and an enraged elephant. It’s not an idea that came to Darley overnight. “I wanted to do this since high school. I said, I'm going to host a travel show one day and didn't know how to exactly do that, but I'm pretty creative. So I came up with a way. And I love doing it for Public Television because nobody dictates the content. I love that because you can still tell really good stories, and you can get in depth, which is harder to find in the media nowadays.”
We had a chance to meet and talk recently, when she came to Los Angeles, to celebrate the arrival of Travels with Darley at KCET. It’s currently seen on 96% of PBS stations, and available on Amazon. She first became interested in travel due to a sad circumstance.
DARLEY: I grew up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The first big trip I took was when I was five or six, and I came out to California. My grandfather passed away, he got cremated, and we came out to spread his ashes in different areas that he felt strongly about. We did one in the San Francisco area. We went to Chinatown one night, over by the Golden Gate Bridge. I remember falling asleep in a restaurant in Chinatown, under the table, because I was so tired. But it was neat. I mean, I've got this love to travel. I love the adventure of it; I look at every day as an adventure.
HENRY: Tell me about your first travel series.
DARLEY: I started doing this show called Equitrekking many years ago. The idea was to go horseback riding around the world with locals as your guides, which sounds bizarre, but it's been really successful. Because you get into a lot of natural areas, and see things that people don't normally get to experience or film. I did everything; going to Botswana, Africa and doing a safari on horseback, where I got charged by an elephant.
HENRY: What exotic places have you visited on Travels with Darley?
DARLEY: I've ridden with the Bedouin in Jordan. I've snowmobiled across glaciers in Iceland, I just jumped off the Macau Tower in Macau, China and filmed it in 360 and survived.
HENRY: Anything unusual a little closer to home?
Darley at Theodore Roosevelt Park in North Dakota
DARLEY: I just did North Dakota this past year, which I thought was fascinating. And I didn't know anyone else who's filmed there. I looked up travel content and couldn't find anything done on the areas where we ended up going. We discovered such interesting things; you can hike to ice caves in the summer and cool off in the grasslands, which is kind of interesting. There's really fascinating Native American culture there, and tribes that I'd never heard of, which we all should learn about.
HENRY: North Dakota is perfect for my readership, because their main interest is the American West. Any other episodes that would be of particular interest to them?
DARLEY: Oh, tons. I just did this new season. We did Tahoe and Reno – Reno I thought was really interesting and underrated, really awesome art scene. There’re just murals all over town, I love when there's street art and murals. I think it makes something different for people to just enjoy things out in the public, public art. Then there's railroad history. I did a segment on the Transcontinental Railroad that's in the show. In Wyoming I did a whole thing on the history of ranches. Went to a hundred-year-old-ranch in Wyoming. I love going to ranches because again, there's not as many. There are dude ranches out there, but there's not as many that are getting preserved there. We're losing some still. The people that run ranches, they've chosen this lifestyle; they're fascinating to talk with or hang out with. And that goes for like so many businesses. Because if you choose to do what you love, wow, what freedom there is with that.
HENRY: Are you doing any riding in the current series?
DARLEY: It's funny, when I first started Travels with Darley, I was like, I'm not going to do any riding, because I'm going to try to differentiate the series. But I'm in the first season, in Maryland, eastern shore. I went to Assateague Island, and they've got wild horses there so I have to cover it, right? I ended up doing a fair number with horses. I just filmed in Qatar. We're going to release this winter (note: it’s a available now) and I actually got to saddle up there, and ride at a lot of those stables, and they’ve got a lot of the prize race horses there. But then you could also go and take a riding lesson. It was really hot.
HENRY: How hot?
DARLEY: Like 110.
HENRY: That's hot.
DARLEY: And humid. I was surprised.
HENRY: What is the first thing you do when you're visiting a new place?
DARLEY: I always walk around. It's nice to explore somewhere on foot, just kind of weaving through a place, not necessarily having a set agenda, to see what you can stumble upon, as long as you're safe about it. I love it in Seville, Spain, one of my favorite places, because you can just wind through their public streets forever, and just get lost, and see so much as you do so.
HENRY: How is Travels with Darley different from other travel shows?
DARLEY: Everything that I have done in all of these episodes, they're all things that anybody can go and do. I didn't get exclusive access; they're open to the public. So you can either just watch it, and feel like you've traveled, or you can really actually do it, which is nice. We're trying to cover a lot of U.S. places, because there aren't as many shows that are doing that, and there's just so much that we have in the U.S. to experience; things people don't know about.
HENRY: How big an operation are you?
DARLEY: When we're filming, there's four of us in total. That includes me. We're a small team. I hear about other shows, and they're like half a dozen, dozen people on them. and I'm like, what do they all do? I edited every single episode up to this last season. You don't need a huge team now with all the modern technology. And since I started doing it, things have just gotten easier, year upon year, and I think it's really exciting.
‘THE PATHFINDER’ & ‘THE SONG OF HIAWATHA’ – SPLIT DECISION
A DVD REVIEW
The tremendous success of 1992’s LAST OF THE MOHICANS, with which Director Michael Mann made an international star of Daniel Day Lewis, led to a rise in Indian-centered Westerns, and a revived interest in the writings of MOHICANS author James Fenimore Cooper. The two films presented in this double-feature from Mill Creek Entertainment, 1996’s THE PATHFINDER, based on Cooper’s 1840 novel, continuing the MOHICANS story, and 1997’s THE SONG OF HIAWATHA, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 epic poem, were a direct result. Produced back to back for Hallmark Entertainment, they are clearly of the same world, yet are remarkably different.
Both films were shot in the beautiful green wilds of Ontario, Canada, and both feature MOHICANS star Russell Means, and fine fellow Native actor Graham Greene. PATHFINDER is shot competently, if without inspiration, with good costuming. There are some splendid sailing ships, and the most exciting sequence is a well-done storm at sea that threatens to destroy the ship. But while there are some good performances – Charles Edward Powell as a traitorous English officer, female lead and later THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN series star Laurie Holden, many performances are weak, and Kevin Dillon has the thankless job of following Daniel Day Lewis in a terribly underwritten role, coming off as the great stone face. Even Jaimz Woolvett, who was so memorable as The Schofield Kid in UNFORGIVEN, is woefully miscast here as a ship’s captain. Stacy Keach has a nice cameo as a French politician. I was recently interviewing him about his Westerns. When I asked him about PATHFINDER, he said, “Oh my, yes. I went up (to Canada) for a day to shoot that thing.” When I confessed that, at the time, I hadn’t seen it, he laughed, “Nor have I.”
THE SONG OF HIAWATHA, on the other hand, is awfully good, and largely unknown. In addition to Means and Greene – who do far better work here – the excellent Indigenous cast includes Gordon Tootoosis, Adam Beach, beautiful Irene Bedard as Minnehaha, and as Hiawatha, Litefoot, who played the title character in THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, and has the distinction of being the first successful Native American rapper. Among the talented non-Native cast members are Michael Rooker and David Stratairn.
Screenwriter Earl W. Wallace had a long career in television, including GUNSMOKE episodes and movies, and shared on Oscar for WITNESS. Remarkably, director Jeffrey Shore has no other directing credits. The double feature is available from Mill Creek Entertainment, for $9.98, HERE.
UPDATE 3-24-2020 – TCM ANNOUNCES CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL HOME EDITION!
It was no surprise, but a big disappointment, when TCM cancelled it’s TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL: after all, everything is cancelled until further notice. But those clever characters at TCM have decided that the original dates for the event, April 16th through the 19th, will be the first ever HOME EDITION version of the classic event, featuring movies that have been presented at the Fest in the past, and ones that would have been presented this year. Also, interviews and events that were filmed at previous TCM Fests will be featured, including Luise Rainer (2011), Eva Marie Saint (2014), Kim Novak (2013), Faye Dunaway (2017), Norman Lloyd (2016), and Peter O’Toole (2012). The announcement adds, this special edition of the Fest begins April 16 at 8pm (ET), continuing until April 19 on TCM and will include TCM hosts, special guests and events to follow on-air and online.
AND THAT’S A WRAP!
And I’ll be back next Sunday with more! In the meantime, please check out the April True West Magazine, on newsstands now, featuring my article on the 40th anniversary of the release of THE LONG RIDERS. In writing the article I had the pleasure of interviewing stars and producers and brothers James Keach (Jesse James) and Stacy Keach (Frank James), Robert Carradine (Bob Younger), Pamela Reed (Belle Starr) and director Walter Hill!
All Original Contents Copyright March, 2020 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved